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Shooting Under Par

Rachel Ginsberg

Thirty years ago, Zohar Sharon was a top Mossad operative who lost his sight on a secret mission. Today, he’s the world’s best blind golfer, defending a string of world championships, even though he’d never even been on a golf course before. Yet, his trophy-lined living room is more than just a showcase for the number-one man on the green. It’s become a place for nurturing the growth of Torah in an apathetic, secular community.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The clipped, tense silence on the course is broken by the crack of Zohar Sharon’s five-iron as the golf ball flies into the distance. Sharon can’t see it, but he can tell by the whack and the air current that it was a good shot, just inches away from the 130-meter flag he was targeting on the practice green.

“Totally straight,” he says, flashing the huge smile that rarely leaves his face. “A peles [level].”

Sharon, a former IDF officer and Mossad and Shin Bet operative who lost his sight 30 years ago in a field mission, is the world’s best blind golfer, defending a string of world championships since 2000, when he entered his first professional tournament.

But the story of Zohar Sharon, 57, is more than the sum total of the dozens of trophies that line his living room in Moshav Aviel, near Hadera. It is the story of a military hero’s rise and fall – and rise again, with a spirit revealed through deep faith, hard work, intense concentration and an internal overhaul.

Since 2003, when he won the World Invitational blind golf tournament in Scotland, he’s taken international championships in Australia, the US, Canada, and England. This summer, he returned as a world champ in the British Open’s World Blind Golf Championships at Whittlebury Park. Before that, he made headlines with a statistically improbably hole-in-one on his home turf, the Caeserea Golf Club, where he practices 10 hours a day except Shabbos.

“I thought I’d overshot it. Then, when Shimshon, my caddy, started screaming and jumping up and down, I thought he’d been bitten by a snake.” 

 

 

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